I do not know how else to say this, but my exit form the Arch of the Centuries felt unceremonious at best. There I was with traces of exactly the same self-doubts I had when I entered the Arch. I waited for it to end and left without a sound thinking it did not help that I won first runner up in the On the Spot Teomasino Essay Contest last 2017 in which I referenced the symbolic initiation/culminating ceremony as the introduction to my argument.
I would graduate with no awards. This isn’t the time to contemplate on the countless things I could have done. This is the time to set those aside and be grateful for the experience, because life just gets harder each year. I thought I might come up with a new project — a masterpiece, an art experiment, a random artwork or write up, or just anything to keep me busy to distract myself until yet again, I discover a new passion that would temporarily fool me into thinking that I am capable of not messing up my creative endeavors.
Instead, I had a migraine which made it particularly hard for me to do just that.
What I came up with instead is this poem. I wrote this a few days before going to my fourth year retreat, while contemplating on my exit from the life I’ve known for the past four years.
Yes, this is a late post, but only because I have been debating with myself whether to share it. But since John Green said, “Nothing ever feels real until it is shared”, here’s my culminating poem.
What’s not to love?
All the King’s horses, and all the King’s men
All the King’s pastors, and all the King’s counselors,
All the King’s doctors, and all the Kings mentors,
Couldn’t put the pieces together again
Nothing to patch up the egg shell of order
Nothing to achieve the illusion that I’m put together
No lasting achievement to make up for years of learned helplessness
And all because I put myself in the position to fall
The day I sat on the fence not willing to turn away from it all
Not even with a cloud of witnesses
Or a scandalous amount of second chances
Second chances I didn’t even ask for
Because I was too tired to try again
When all I could remember was the fall
Must I wait till a legion gauges out my eyeballs
Keeping me from ever seeing the light of day?
Not that it only makes sense
To finally be abandoned for good
In the abyss of my own making
I was always given a choice
And though help was always closer than the air I breathe
I decided immediate relief was more accessible
Until I let the real enemy strip me off my edge
And made a display out of me
Before dancing on my grave
I’ve come face to face with everything I could be — good and bad
Everything I could be if, that is, if I had no anchor and went all the way into the abyss
Would you have done differently?
I would want nothing more
Than to leave without a sound
But they took away my eyes
So I will bring down the house
If it’s the last thing I’d do
My dying wish
“The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
In case it isn’t obvious, the first part of the poem is a reference to Humpty Dumpty, while the latter part is a reference to Samson from the Bible.
Side note: I normally use references from different stories as metaphors combined with my own experiences in my poetry. The symbolism adds a fictional element to the piece which wouldn’t be an accurate description of my experiences if they were to be interpreted literally. For instance, the last verse has no literal semblance to my life or what I intend to do. The sentiment, however is the same.
The Philistines in my life I would say are the cares of the world; the distractions that cause me to forget why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Towards the latter half of college, I felt like I had to rebuild myself from scratch. I won’t get into details, but I wanted my comeback to be much greater than the disaster I caused. Yet no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t find the same drive I once had. To make matters worse, when I finally regained the desire to do well and perhaps make a difference, I was greeted by unprecedented setbacks every single day, albeit petty ones.
Many times, I wanted to quit. So it only makes sense that I look to an icon of strength: Samson, the strongest warrior who ever lived or will ever live.
Deceived by the person he loved. Fine.
Learned what it means to be weak and powerless for the first time. Fine.
Made fun of. Fine.
Stole his vision such that the last thing he remembers before his death is darkness.
Now they have crossed the line.
And for that, he made them pay.
He never saw more clearly than when his physical eyes were taken from him.
Long story short: This poem goes out to those who wish they exited the Arch the same way they entered it: never forgetting your values and who you were called to be, even after a fall. The fight for your voice, is a fight for your vision. It’s never too late to get back at the enemy for stealing your vision. What matters is that we choose our battles and never forget who the real enemy is.
And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with [all his] might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that [were] therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than [they] which he slew in his life.